I’m in the middle.
You know, that place where the newness and excitement have worn off but the goal is still nowhere in sight? The place where you know what to do, but you definitely don’t have it all figured out.
I’m more than 12 years into my corporate insurance career.
I’ve survived layoffs, accepted “additional responsibilities”, picked up the slack, and trained new employees. I can tell you exactly why you NEED replacement cost coverage on contents (check your homeowner’s policies, people!) and 10 other things about insurance that you should probably care more about than you do (I digress). I’m also multiple decades away from retirement.
My marriage is 10 years old, well past the newlywed stage, but nowhere close to the golden years.
My son is eight and fully capable of pouring his own milk but still hundreds of permission slips, tests, and papers away from walking down the aisle to accept his college diploma.
My handmade jewelry business is just under two years old: still MY baby, but not A baby.
The new and exciting days are long gone, and you’re in a place that looks a lot more like work. Being in the middle can feel monotonous and even boring. Focusing on what’s ahead can be tough when all of your long-term goals feel so far away.
There are two things that work well for me when I feel stuck and unfocused in my life and business.
Remember your first day at your new big girl corporate job in your ill-fitting suit when you had no clue how to find the bathroom, let alone actually do what they hired you to do? Remember those first few weeks in training when there were 10 different systems to learn and you didn’t even know which password to use to log in to your computer? Now you’re the go-to person in the office for the big project and you’re the one they send the new people to because you’re so good at explaining things.
Remember when, as a new mom, you could barely figure out how to change a diaper without getting peed on (#boymom) and your baby cried and cried and you had no idea what to do so you cried, too? Now your kid eats food without you having to feed it to him, folds laundry (praise hands), and is doing multiplication.
Remember when you decided to start your business and you had no clue how to get people to pay you for whatever you were going to do and your biggest decisions were things like “what should my title be on my business cards?”
Now you have customers, people like your work, and you know how to send a flipping newsletter (you still might put it off, though. It’s ok. I do it, too).
My point is, when you’re in the middle it’s because you know your stuff. You have some “street cred.” You aren’t making the same mistakes you used to make. In short, you’ve grown.
Be proud of that growth. Celebrate it. Buy yo’self a cake pop at Starbucks and sit back and just take it all in for a moment.
The second thing that works when you need to refocus and bring some excitement to your work and your life:
What do you want the next phase of life to look like? What do you want to do? How do you want to feel? Be as specific as possible. Your ideal life (not your pie-in-the sky-now-I’m-flying-off-to-my-private-island-in-the-Caribbean fantasy life) might not be as far away as you think.
The past two years I’ve chosen a word or phrase of the year to focus on. Because I stamp metal for a living, I make myself a bracelet and wear that word as a reminder of what I want to focus on for the next year.
In 2016 it was “choose joy,” which worked out beautifully. That was the year I started my business. I was in a period of transition and life looked much different than it had during the prior 7 years. I was MUCH less stressed and it was a great year overall.
This year I chose “shine.” As an introvert, it’s difficult to put myself out there. I resisted social media for years in my personal life because I felt awkward about it. Posting anything remotely personal caused way too much over-thinking and analysis. I wanted to start saying “yes” to new opportunities and quit hiding.
Focusing my attention on one theme for the year has worked for me in a way that writing New Year’s Resolutions never did.
So, if you’re in the middle and you feel stuck and unfocused, start with these two steps:
(Psst: Like Jenn’s word-of-the-year bracelet idea? She’s offering 10% all items in her shop for MotherHustle readers with the code MH2018)
Jenn Davis is the Owner and Maker behind Maggie Claire Designs, where she creates hand-stamped jewelry and leather bracelets. Jenn is a wife and the mom of an eight-year-old boy. In 2015, she took a break from her corporate training career in search of more flexibility and joy. During that time she discovered metal stamping and started Maggie Claire Designs. One of her first products was stamped word-of-the-year bracelets. Jenn believes that choosing a word or theme for the year can be a powerful way to focus and achieve meaningful goals. She loves the creative process and can often be found sketching ideas for new pieces.
Jenn honored her grandmother, Maggie, who passed away in 2015 and her great-grandmother, Claire, by naming the business after both of them. In her spare time, Jenn loves good books and good coffee. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.
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